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Human Resources
Apr 15, 2015

When Should Your Company Hire A Retained Executive Search Firm?

Sponsored Content provided by Bo Burch - Chief Executive Officer, Human Capital Solutions, Inc.

The strategic leaders within your company help your organization create its vision, accomplish its mission, provide day-to-day stewardship, and maintain and grow the corporate brand. In addition, the executives you hire must ensure the people they oversee are managed and nurtured so that they perform to the best of their abilities, and that the projects for which the executive is responsible meet rigorous fiduciary expectations.

You should not leave the finding and hiring of your executive team to unsolicited resumes, referrals, job postings, or searches on social media and job boards alone. The process to find these organizational leaders must be strategic, thoughtful and driven exclusively by the goal of finding the right person out of a field of many. Your company doesn’t simply want to find someone who has the requisite education and can check the boxes for the needed technical expertise. The person you need to help your company navigate the challenges of a global economy and rapid change, including technology and industry regulations, needs to have it all. That person needs to understand the whole picture, the internal and external factors that impact your business.

How a Retained Executive Search Can Help You Find and Recruit Your Top Executives

Retained executive search firms help organizations recruit mid- to senior-level executives for key positions. Often these positions are not advertised and the people the retained firm recruits aren’t actively looking to make a change.  These candidates are referred to as passive candidates, and savvy recruiters have relationships with them, know how to assess their hard and soft business skills against what the client company is seeking, and can convince them to consider a new challenge and position. I noted some of the differences between a retained executive search firm and a contingency firm in a past Insights article. Here are some other features of these types of firms, as noted by the Association of Executive Search Consultants.

A quality retained executive search firm is proactive and uses systematic search and outreach methods  to find and recruit the best possible candidate for a position. Since recruiters for these firms are hired by the client to find and assess candidates that would fit well within the company’s culture, the recruiters spend time with company leaders and understand the requirements of the position beyond professional experience and technical skills. The objective is to find exceptional candidates and assess them against the needs of the company’s strategic plan, the desired financial impact of the position, and the organizational responsibilities and accountabilities to key stakeholders.  Contingency search firm recruiters generally use a different recruitment methodology, trying to get as many qualified candidates in front of the hiring manager as soon as possible in the hope that one of them will get hired and the contingency search firm will receive a fee.

Due to the nature of the agreement and the high-touch nature of the requirements, the retained executive search consultant normally handles between three to five assignments at any given time, while the contingency consultant often works with numerous open job orders, presenting the same candidate to multiple openings with various companies. One of the primary measures of success for the retained executive search consultant is the quality of the candidate, while the measure of a contingency consultant is the speed with which the search firm can present a number of qualified candidates to multiple companies. 

If your company is looking to fill a key position, you will increase the probability of long-term success and mutual fit if you consider your specific goals before conducting the search internally (leveraging your internal human resources  team). If your company is considering going outside to select a search firm, you should consider the following:

  • Are you OK with the public and your competitors knowing this position is open and vacant?
  • Do you feel comfortable with the maturity and applicable experience of the recruiter who will be representing you, your brand and your company in the marketplace?
  • Will your internal recruiters call passive candidates who currently work for your competitors? If so, is your executive team comfortable with that?
  • Will a candidate who works for your competitor feel comfortable and trust a cold call from your internal recruiter?
  • Will your recruiter be taken seriously when she or he reaches out to a seasoned executive?
  • Do you want the firm to bring you the most qualified candidates who may be currently employed or a large number of candidates quickly?
  • What level in your organization is the position you’re seeking to fill? How important is the recruiter’s knowledge of your company in filling this position? What is the financial impact of the position to the company?
  • Do I need my internal HR team working on other projects, and is it wise to have them dedicated to a long and extensive executive or technical search?
Each search firm has a method of finding people for a client company. I suggest you understand all the factors that go into a search and make the decision based on your specific needs and expertise.

As a retained executive search firm, Human Capital Solutions, Inc. understands these factors and challenges. Our leadership team has decades of experience in creating vision and accomplishing the mission through talent acquisition, leadership development, performance management, P & L (profit and loss) performance, and generation of shareholder value or owner equity. In addition, team members have extensive knowledge in the sectors for which Human Capital Solutions recruits: health care, the industrials, life sciences and technology.

Bo Burch is the founder and CEO of Human Capital Solutions, Inc. with corporate offices in Wilmington, N.C. Human Capital Solutions is striving to be the preferred global leader in retained executive search and professional recruiting services with industry veterans and subject matter experts in: life sciences, health care, the industrials and technology. HCS represents companies, recruits and assesses and places key talent in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Western Europe.

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